Bank’s Disabled Access Proposal Doomed to Fail?

Barclays Bank on the corner of Frederick Street/Warstone Lane has applied for planning permission to provide an accessible entrance for disabled customers. To overcome the existing steps, the Bank proposes to install a vertical, enclosed platform lift on the pavement (see application: 2012/03950/PA).

The idea that high street banks should be accessible to everyone is uncontroversial. However, the rather incongruous design for this lift may attract concern. This pretty dramatic proposal for a Grade II building won’t come cheap and is unlikely to be approved. Surely the bank knows this? Perhaps that’s the point.

Whilst Barclays have shown willing with this application, their lack of consultation on this controversial access proposal could be construed as ‘lip service’ to legal obligations.

As a wheelchair user, living and working in the JQ is challenging. I love the area’s unique historical and architectural qualities (if I wanted to live in a bland skatepark full of ramps then I’d move!) Whilst accessibility can definitely be improved around here, it will require a genuine commitment to inclusion from all stakeholders. Only by working together and making compromises will we welcome everyone to visit, live and spend money in the area.

Even if this proposal isn’t approved, let’s hope Barclays are genuinely committed to providing an accessible and inclusive service at this branch. The way they take this forward will set a positive or negative example for other businesses in the JQ.

Photo by Ell Brown.

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